COLUMBUS JUNCTION — Father’s Day was Sunday and it was just the second one since Tyler Kibbee became a father.
Kibbee is trying to create some memories he can share with his son, two-year-old Rylon Kibbee, all of which makes this Father’s Day all the more special to Kibbee.
He is generating memories he will share and he is generating them in his favorite sport.
Kibbee isn’t the fleetest of foot, nor is he the most athletic person on a football field.
At age 30, the Columbus High School varsity football coach wears a knee brace as he plays a position he hasn’t played since his high school days at Mason City High School.
But Kibbee loves the game of football, a passion he wants to share with his two-year-old son.
So Kibbee suits up every Sunday afternoon and plays quarterback for the Burlington Express, a semi-professional football team which competes in the Mid-American 8-Man Football League.
Of course he plays to win and he plays for his teammates and for himself. But he also plays for that someone who calls him, ‘Dad.’
“I have a two-year-old son. I kind of play for him. He’s young enough that he’s not quite into it yet,” Kibbee said. “He likes to be able to throw the ball around and run around in the yard. He spends time with Momma when I’m here and then when I get home I spend as much time with him as I can.”
Kibbee played on a team based in the Quad Cities prior to switching to the Express this season, mostly because the travel from the family’s home in Ainsworth was a little shorter, allowing him to spend more time with his wife and son.
It has allowed Kibbee to meet a whole new group of friends while learning an entirely different system under owner/head coach Antonio Bailey.
“Meeting new people. Being able to get out and compete with guys. It’s a good way to stay healthy. It keeps things fresh in your mind when you are trying to coach a little bit, too. Plus, it keeps you relevant,” Kibbee said. “We have guys from Quincy, Hannibal, St. Louis, Burlington. We’ve got guys coming from Chicago. It’s nice to be able to build some chemistry when we’re here, build some chemistry during the week when we do chats and stuff like that on Facebook Messenger. Sometimes it’s one of those things you just have to feel them out once you get here. Once you get here you feel it and you’re good.”
Kibbee was a quarterback for Mason City High School, mostly running the option and getting the ball to the athletes in space. He ran an efficient offense, but now is being asked to run a totally different type of offense. It has taken time to adjust, especially after playing outside linebacker at Buena Vista University.
“I was a three-year starter. Nothing special. I was just a role guy. I was an option quarterback. I gave the ball to who we needed to and then we did what we needed to do. Then in college I moved to outside linebacker,” Kibbee said. “The timing is a little bit faster. You have to anticipate getting the ball out a little bit quicker. Last week I felt that a little bit. This week we were able to pick up some pressure. We made some good adjustments. It’s just a faster pace.”
Kibbee, who helped coach football and track at Mount Pleasant before moving to Columbus Community to become the head football coach for the Wildcats, feels by still playing the game, it helps him relate better with his players. He knows exactly what they are thinking and feeling in game situations. It allows him to give his players a fresh perspective on the game.
“It helps being able to know some of the stuff they’re feeling, some of the stuff they’re going through, especially in workouts. You get in a game situation like that you have a lot of the same emotions, a lot of the same feeling they have. You try to teach that to those guys. It helps,” Kibbee said.
Kibbee and his wife, Taylor (Vonnahme) Kibbee, met in college. Taylor Vonnahme was a softball player at Highland High School and went on to play at Buena Vista. Now, they make their home in Ainsworth, Taylor’s hometown.
On June 14, Kibbee helped the Express win their first game in four years. It was a special feeling for Kibbee, who got to take the final snap in the Victory formation.
For Kibbee, it was another memory he can share with his son.
“It’s very big. I guess these guys hadn’t won a game in four years, I didn’t know that. It’s a good experience for these guys,” Kibbee said. “Hopefully we can build on that going into Father’s Day week. Enjoy that day. Come back next week and we’re on the road. We’ll see how we travel. It’s kind of nice to have two home games right off the jump. Now we’ll see how we travel.”